Catalonian Leader Accuses Madrid of Repressing Freedom

“We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,” Catalonia’s leader said.

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Demonstrators react as they try to stop the car carrying Xavier Puig, a senior at the Department of External Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency of the Catalan Government office, after he was arrested by Guardia Civil officers in Barcelona, Spain, on Wednesday.
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Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont accused Madrid on Wednesday of imposing a “de facto state of emergency” in the Spanish region, for not allowing the Catalan referendum from going forward, Mint reported.

In a speech, Puigdemont accused Madrid of “suspending and repressing” freedoms, as the Spanish police raided Catalan government offices and arrested officials on Wednesday to halt a banned referendum on independence, an action the regional president said meant Madrid had effectively taken over his administration.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the regional government offices in the centre of Barcelona's tourist district, waving the red-and-yellow Catalan flag and chanting "Occupying forces out" and "Where is Europe?".

"The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia's government and has established emergency rule," Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address.

"We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state," he said, adding Catalans should turn out in force to vote in the 1 October referendum on a split from Spain that Madrid has declared illegal.

Police efforts to stop the referendum have intensified in recent days as the wealthy northeastern region shows no signs of halting it.

Acting under court orders, police have raided printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.

The Civil Guard, a national police force, on Wednesday seized 10 million ballot papers, polling station displays as well as documents and forms to run the vote, including a list of voters under the headline "2017 Catalonia self-determination referendum".

(With inputs from Reuters)

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